Lorezelle Shey Yanga ‘16, a cyber security operations center analyst for one of the world’s leading global life sciences companies, shares with SC&I readers how her bachelor’s degree in Information Technology and Informatics (ITI) helped her figure out her career path. Currently based in France, Yanga works full-time while pursuing a master’s degree in cybersecurity at the University of Dallas.
SC&I: What ITI classes and instructors had the most impact on you as a person and on your career?
LSY: I had many outstanding professors at SC&I, but the most impactful was my Information Security course with instructor Beth Binde. It was extremely in-depth about information security, directly assisting me with my studies for the CompTIA Security+ exam I completed after graduation. Because it was very technical, it allowed me to assess whether I wanted to continue down that career path. Binde was also a very kind and patient instructor who shared my interests in the security field. After graduating, she invited me to speak as a guest lecturer during one of her Information Security courses to share my industry knowledge and give some insight into my daily duties as a Cyber Security Operations Center (Cyber SOC) analyst.
SC&I: What is your favorite piece of career advice?
LSY: There are two that I think of often. I once expressed doubt in my abilities, especially about being the youngest on my team, to my colleague. He told me to stop thinking in the mindset of limits and boundaries—whether age, gender, or years of experience in my field—because if you keep thinking this way, you are creating these boundaries for yourself that you will be scared of crossing. The second is something my manager shared with me when I struggled to find balance with work and life at home and is now something I share with everyone around me. In life, you are constantly juggling different types of balls—your family, career, friendships, hobbies, etc. You may feel overwhelmed and need to drop some of the balls to keep yourself steady as you go through life. Perhaps later in life, you can pick those balls back up again when you are more stable or have more room, but some of your balls are made of glass. Don’t drop the glass balls because you won’t be able to pick them up again later.
SC&I: What advice would you give your younger self about figuring out what aspect of the IT & Informatics profession to pursue?
LSY: There is a Japanese word and concept that I came across around the time of graduation that helped me decide to pursue cyber security. The word is “ikigai,” and it roughly translates to the “meaning of your life” or “path to life fulfillment.” This concept takes into consideration four components: passion, vocation, profession, and mission. To find these four components, you need to list what you love, what you can get paid for, what you’re good at, and what the world needs. I listed out many things in each section to determine each of my four components. For me, doing something I was passionate about was extremely important in deciding my career path. If I could talk to myself when I was younger, I would tell her to do this exercise every year I attended Rutgers to fine-tune what I was interested in and what I could reasonably enjoy getting a job in. Often, students will choose majors or careers only based on their vocation or perhaps only the most common professions in their field; I believe that choosing something you’re passionate about will make a huge difference in your overall happiness.
SC&I: Tell us about your current work
LSY: I work as a Cyber Security Operations Center (Cyber SOC) Analyst for Sanofi. In my role, I respond to incidents for compromised systems and perform digital forensics to analyze the cause of the incident, and work with other IT teams (such as the firewall team or the infrastructure team) to remediate the compromise. My fellow analysts and I work on projects to improve our threat detection capabilities and improve our incident response processes. I am currently the team leader for Cloud Security, where I have brought together different security experts to tackle how to defend the cloud. I am also a member of the Malware Reverse Engineering team and the Active Directory team, which are extremely fun. Recently, I was relocated to France to help build out a Europe-based Cyber SOC branch. Our team is 24/7, and there are times I may need to work on a weekend or wake up at 3 a.m. to respond to incidents; personally, these are always really exciting to do. I was the first on our team to stay overnight in our Cyber SOC, and it was one of my favorite incidents to work on!
SC&I: How did the ITI program help prepare you?
LSY: Many of the ITI courses emphasize teamwork and the majority of the jobs in the IT field require you to work on a team. The team projects I worked on in the ITI program significantly improved my group communications and time management skills when completing deadlines and especially prepared me to give technical presentations to technical and non-technical audiences. In my role, I often have to explain in-depth security projects to members of the business side of our company, and the courses I took in ITI definitely helped with these presentations.